Nemours Biomedical Research
Under the leadership of internationally recognized fetal surgeon Kenneth W. Liechty, MD, the Wound Healing Research Lab focuses primarily in the field of wound healing and regenerative medicine, with an emphasis on three specific areas:
The lab is located at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, near Nemours Children’s Hospital in Lake Nona’s Medical City in Orlando. With access to advanced equipment, the lab has a wide range of capabilities, including:
Surgeon-in-Chief Chair, Department of Surgery; Nemours Children’s Hospital Professor, University of Central Florida, College of Medicine
Learn More About Dr. Liechty »
The Wound Healing Research Lab focuses on research into the processes involved in wound healing and regenerative medicine.
In a 2013 study supported in part by the National Institutes of Health and published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, researchers at the Wound Healing Research Lab examined the process of cardiac regeneration in mammals after fetal myocardial infarction. Our team was able to demonstrate that recruitment of cardiac progenitor cells is essential for this process to work. The in utero fetal MI model proved to be a powerful tool as we expand our knowledge of cardiac progenitor cell biology and develop new therapies to promote cardiac regeneration in patients.
In a 2012 study published in Diabetes and supported by a National Institutes of Health Diabetes Pathfinder Grant, the Wound Healing Research Lab built on some of our previous work on MicroRNA-146a (miR-146a) and its relationship to wound healing in diabetics. MiR-146a plays an important role in diabetic wound healing by regulating proinflammatory genes expression.
Our team was able to establish the first evidence that decreased expression of miR-146a in diabetic wounds in response to injury may be partly responsible for the abnormal inflammatory response seen in diabetic wounds. In fact, this decreased expression may even contribute to wound-healing impairment.
Modulating miR-146a level through Mesenchymal Stem Cell (MSC) treatment can decrease wound inflammation and enhance wound closure. MiR-146a may also represent a potential useful marker of inflammation, as well as a potential therapeutic target for modification of the diabetic wound-healing response.
The Human Genome Project found that only 3 percent of DNA codes for proteins and the remaining 97 percent was labeled as “junk DNA.” On further examination, our researchers in the Wound Healing Research Lab are starting to unlock the secrets and value of this important component in our genetic makeup. One significant finding is that “junk DNA” does affect the manufacture of messenger RNA, which signals the body to send substances that promote healing to the site of a wound.
Using stem cell and gene therapy, our team is looking at ways to manipulate the levels of “junk DNA” in ways that might help people with diabetes to heal better and faster from wounds. Our researchers employed high-throughput screening to examine 50,000 compounds in an effort to identify the precise signaling pathways implicated in diabetic wound healing. Our work is continuing, and we hope someday to use this knowledge to create new treatments for people with diabetes. This is one of many studies revealing the previously hidden importance of this vast genetic material.
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